Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Seoul gone from Google Maps? Nope.

Get ready to cringe, because this article basically Seouls you:

The Seoul Metropolitan Government said Friday that it recently discovered Google’s online map service did not properly mark Seoul as South Korea’s capital, or the Dokdo islets at all, and asked the American tech company to resolve the issue.
Google Maps showed the capitals of neighboring countries including Beijing, Tokyo and Taipei clearly marked, but when zoomed out failed to show Seoul, according to the city government.
Even when the map was zoomed in, Pyongyang was marked as North Korea’s capital. However, in South Korea only Seongnam, a city outside Seoul in Gyeonggi, was marked.
[Korea Joongang Daily | Dokdo can’t be searched for on Google Maps]

South Korea shows rather blank, compared to its
neighbors, in what seems a reverse of this iconic image.

I like how the tone of this article implies that this was somehow a slight of Korea by a big bad American multinational. "...asked the American tech company to resolve the issue..." (!) Nothing could be farther from the truth. Like with most things, this non-controversy stems from a very boring cause:

지도를 업데이트하기 위해서는 타일링(Tiling)이라는 작업이 필요한데, 대한민국의 경우 국내법 준수를 위해 다른 나라와는 다른 별도의 작업이 필요합니다. [SPH | The reason Seoul is missing from Google Maps]

As the post above points out, it is Korea's own National Security Law that prevents Google from pushing updates to their map tiling in a timely fashion. The map tiles for Seoul were recently updated (thank God) but because of the archaic laws demanding mapping data be stored/processed within South Korea's borders, the update was delayed while local partners took care of it. 

Lest you get uselessly upset about this sort of thing (like I do), you're not alone. Koreans themselves find it annoying that even North Korea receives better coverage on Google. 

So if you too find navigating in Korea difficult thanks to the pretty terrible quality of Google Maps, don't blame the big bad G. Blame those in government who still think its 1952 and that somehow keeping it illegal to export maps will make Seoul safer. For crying out loud, I've been in apartment complexes that directly overlook military installations. I could snap a few photos with my phone, even through binoculars if so inclined, and Snapchat them to Kim Jong-Un, but I can't get simple driving directions. 

Oh, and by the way, I love how that Joongang piece complains:

Right now if you search for Korea’s easternmost Dokdo islets on Google Maps, the map will take you to the Dokdo Museum on the nearby Ulleung Island.
Only by searching with the Franco-English name for the islets, Liancourt Rocks, can the Dokdo islets in the East Sea be located on Google’s online map service.
The same results are found when searching in both English and Korean on the online map service.

Well go ahead and search "Dokdo" on Naver, and what do you get? The famed islets? Only if you scroll down in the auto-fill list. Go ahead and just do a quick-and-dirty "Dokdo" search on Naver. Please do. And what do you get? Korea's national pride? No. Your local branch of Dokdo Tuna restaurants. 

"Dokdo" search on Naver returns 독도참치

But please, tell me more about how Google is slighting Korea. Especially with disparaging comments like:
“Korea is one of the most important markets, as it is in (the)top five nations with the largest number of developers for Google Play,” Jamie Rosenberg, vice president of Google’s digital content, said at its first Google Play event for partners and media in Seoul. [Korea Herald]

Outright shocking. We need to ask the American tech company to cease this outrageous rhetoric. And now that all this righteous anger has given me an appetite, I strangely have a sudden craving for tuna...

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